Mar 14, 2015
PILIBHIT: The ‘mazaar’ of Selha Baba is located in the dense forest belt of Barahi range in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve and every year, since 1966, devouts carry out processions to the holy place on Urs. This year too, the Urs started on Friday, for the first time after PTR was notified by the state government as a tiger reserve. The PTR authorities and district administration have relaxed several norms to avoid hurting religious sentiments. Entry in PTR area is prohibited without prior permission from the competent forest authorities and blowing horns of motorized vehicles as well as the loud noises are also a strict no. However, processions of over 5,000 people could be seen going deep in the PTR, some of them on tractors, creating quite a racket. PTR authorities have not imposed any restriction upon the movement of vehicles like cars, jeeps and the tractor and trolleys through forest area.
PTR DFO Kailash Prakash said this year, the road that goes into the forest along the Kheeri branch canal has been restricted for the movement of civilians to reach the mazaar. He added that people have been asked not to blow loud or pressure horns in the forest belt and the management committee of the mazaar has been told not to operate loudspeaker after the sunset. The Urs also has a tradition of sacrificing roosters at the mazaar. According to locals, over a lakh of roosters are sacrificed in the span of five days. This tradition is in practice since 1966 when the Urs of Selha Baba was celebrated for the first time. The DFO said those who indulge in slaughtering of roosters have been instructed to properly ensure burial of the remains on a daily basis. Also, unlike previous years, any cooking on firewood has strictly been prohibited in Urs but the use of LPG or kerosene stoves would be allowed. Amitabh Agnihotri, vice president of wildlife biodiversity conversion society, said the noise and pollution due to slaughtering of birds would impact the wildlife in the reserve, but banning the Urs was probably not an option.
He added that the administration could regulate the entry of people in the forest, and all motorized vehicles like tractors should be stopped outside the gate to avoid pollution. Instead, the administration could arrange for bullock carts for the devouts, he said. Agnihotri also noted that during the ceremony, prayers are read out on loud speakers, which also disturbs the animals. Instead, the mazaar authorities should be convinced to keep speaker volumes low, he added. Meanwhile, the DFO said an eight-member team of forest force has been deployed at mazar which would be liable to ensure that the given instructions are strictly complied with. He said that in view of the limited force available with PTR, the district police administration has been urged to deploy adequate force to ensure the safety of forest and wildlife during the Urs. ASP Sudhir Kumar Singh told TOI that to maintain law and order, 12 sub-inspectors, 10 head constables, 30 constables, 15 lady constables, two traffic constables and a platoon of PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) have been deployed in Urs area. He said that a fire-brigade would continuously camp in the area till the concluding day of the Urs. President of the committee which sets up a fair during the five-day Urs, Abdul Hafiz Khan, told TOI that as per tradition, those people whose prayers have been answered have to offer a rooster, but everybody ends up doing so to get the blessings of Selha Baba. He added that most people cook the bird and eat it after offering it during prayers, but a few who do not believe in killing animals, let the rooster free after prayers. Khan said on the opening day of Urs, more than 5,000 people visited the mausoleum to offer their prayers and the numbers are set to increase in the coming days.
As posted in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com